Summer 2021 phonics check cancelled

All statutory primary assessments have been cancelled for the 2020-21 academic year after Covid school closures
7th January 2021, 5:03pm
Amy Gibbons

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Summer 2021 phonics check cancelled

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/summer-2021-phonics-check-cancelled
Coronavirus School Closures: The Summer Phonics Screening Check Has Been Cancelled

The controversial Year 1 summer phonics check has been scrapped for a second year running.

All statutory primary assessments due to take place in the 2020-21 academic year have been cancelled, according to new guidance from the Department for Education.

This includes the phonics check, which would normally take place in the summer, the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) clarified in an update sent this afternoon.


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In September, the DfE confirmed that schools would be asked to carry out a past version of the phonics check in the autumn term for Year 2 pupils who missed the test at the end of the 2019-20 academic year.

It is not yet clear whether this arrangement will be repeated for a second year. The DfE told Tes that further details in relation to the 2020-21 phonics check were still being worked out.

Coronavirus: Primary assessments halted amid school closures

Yesterday education secretary Gavin Williamson announced that Sats will not be going ahead this year, after schools were closed as part of the third national lockdown.

The DfE had already U-turned on its plan to press ahead with all primary assessments in 2021, cancelling key stage 1 Sats and some of the Year 6 tests.

However, it was still planning for the majority of KS2 Sats, as well as the Year 1 phonics check, to go ahead in the summer.

This afternoon, the DfE clarified that all primary assessments will be scrapped in the 2020-21 academic year.

New guidance from the DfE states: "The department recognises that, due to the further disruption caused by school closures, primary assessments cannot continue as intended.

"We will therefore cancel the statutory KS1 and KS2 tests and teacher assessments planned for summer 2021, including the KS2 tests in reading and mathematics.

"We remain determined to ensure that every young person, no matter their age or background, is provided with the education and opportunities they deserve despite the challenges faced by schools.

"We know that schools will continue to use assessment during the summer term to inform teaching, to enable them to give information to parents on their child's attainment in their annual report and to support transition to secondary school. We strongly encourage schools to do this, using past test papers if they wish."

And an email update from the STA, sent this afternoon, confirms that the phonics check is among the cancelled assessments.

It states: "The following assessments, scheduled between April and July 2021, have been cancelled:

  • KS1 teacher assessments
  • KS2 tests and teacher assessments
  • Phonics screening check
  • All statutory trialling

"Schools do not need to complete any further activities to prepare for these assessments. Local authorities will not need to undertake monitoring or moderation activities."

In the new guidance published this afternoon, the department adds that a full range of primary tests will take place in the next academic year.

"Primary assessments have a crucial role in supporting pupils to grasp the basics of reading, writing and mathematics and to prepare them for secondary school," it says.

"As such, these arrangements will apply for summer 2021 only, and the department is planning for a full programme of primary assessments to take place in the 2021-22 academic year."

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